So I’ve been asked a few times by people (by my offline friends, as well as my wife!) why I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours on a game, a niche game, that probably few people will ever play, and will take a long time to complete. What’s the point?
The point is that I believe in these sort of games. Period.
I look around at the gaming landscape and I have both hope and fear. Fear in the gradual mobilization of gaming into small ‘bite-size’ chunks that anyone can play, games that have the depth of a puddle, games that encourage us to win by essentially hitting the ‘put more money in’ (i.e. PTW) button, like a slot machine. It pains me that games like the Kardashians, Trivie Crack, and Candy Crush make millions and millions of dollars, while truly unique games get almost ignored by today’s gaming youth as a general whole.
But I also have hope. Hope at the many small indies that have sprung up, creating games that THEY would want to play, and developers who aren’t afraid to take risks. I was inspired in part to jump into the deep end of creating Imperia by another game, Aurora, a one-man 4X tour-de-force by Steve Walmsley. It’s programmed in VB6. VB6!!! But the gameplay is insanely deep, and it will let you go as far down the rabbit hole as you want, or until your computer starts to smoke. I look at developers like Arcen Games, who create games that they would want to play, first and foremost, even if they aren’t ‘tried and true’ designs/concepts, even if by making them means they might go bankrupt. I look at the two-man team who has developed Dwarf Fortress, an ASCII game that may be the most procedural game ever created, and has committed to working on DF for 20 years. And I look at Amplitude, who though being the most ‘commercial’ nevertheless reaches out to the community daily, learns from its mistakes, and I believe truly wants to make innovative and memorable games in the genre (Endless Legend, Endless Space)
I want to help keep this light flickering. The grand strategy/4X light has ebbed and flowed over the past few years, and even though we have seen somewhat of a resurgence in the genre over the last few years, many of the games that were released weren’t very good. With every half-assed game that comes out in this field, and the lack of profits that companies might see, I fear that larger companies will simply give up on this genre. There are no more Microproses, Ataris, or New World Computings anymore to showcase these games – Firaxis is about the only AAA publisher/developer left that is committed to making these kind of games, and even their games are quite mainstream! I get it – you’ve got to make money, so you have to appeal to the widest crowd, so I don’t hold it against them in this modern gaming environment.
Which brings me back to Imperia. This is the game I’ve always wanted to make, and I think a lot of people have wanted to play it, even if they didn’t quite realize it. It’s not mainstream, it has a zero budget for marketing, and it’s being made by one programmer and a great artist, with suggestions from some very talented and innovative people. I listen to what you say. I know it’s a long-drop project. And my wife does think I’m crazy for putting so much time into a game that doesn’t even ask for donations.
But I believe in Imperia. I believe in these epic games. And I hope that if you’re reading this, you do too. I’m going to take a page from Amplitude and reach out to you. Let’s make this game – together. Let’s make the game that will hopefully pull some of this generation into strategy gaming, and at the very least, pull some of the people my age (late 30’s) who grew up in what I consider the golden age of grand-scale strategy gaming back to the fold.
Essentially, my stated goal is simple: I want to make Imperia the best and most innovative 4X/5X space strategy game ever made.
Let’s build this crumbling empire. One idea at a time, one code line at a time, one pixel at a time. And unlike many of these projects that start out with fanfare and die soon after, I’ll be here for the long haul. So don’t worry about me. I need you. Tell your friends who might like these games. Contribute. Share your ideas. One word might spark an entirely new concept for the game. You never know! So let’s do this thing.